Why nails are the new ‘it’ buy

02 March 2010

I was out the other night and two women in a toilet queue were comparing notes about the colour of their nail polish. ‘Is that Chanel Particuliere?’ they both said in unison, before giggling to each other conspiratorially – knowing full well they had to practically kill someone to get their hands on a pot.  Nails! Not bags or shoes. NAILS.  How could a little pot of colour cause such a hoo hah?

I shouldn’t be surprised really. Just last week, I spend the whole day tracking down said nail colour, Particuliere (a chic muddy shade) for my editor and fashion editor to wear on the front row in Milan. First stop, press office. Out of Stock. Second stop, fellow beauty editors. No luck. Finally, my friends at Selfridges managed to bag two from their meagre stock. ‘You’re lucky - we’ve nearly sold out,’ they told me before kindly whizzing over the polishes to my desk just in the knick of time.

Then, at a photo shoot on Friday, I bumped into makeup artist for Burberry, Wendy Rowe, who spotting my aqua marine manicure, cooed, ‘ooh, is that Chanel Jade? It’s going for £200 on eBay you know.’ eBay. £200. Blimey! That’s half the price of a pair of Louboutin's. Actually, the nail shade in question wasn’t Jade (a tad last year) but Chanel Nouvelle Vague, a turquoise hue launching in May as part of their summer collection – FYI, looks wicked on tanned feet.

It’s thanks to magazines like Grazia that Chanel Jade and its subsequent nail colours are having a moment. But, when women in the real world (not in magazine world) are actually name checking specific shades, as if it were the latest handbag style, you know there’s a bigger movement at play.

My theory? It’s a recession thing. My first ever designer nail polish was Chanel Rouge Noir. It was 1995 and I was working as an intern at Harpers Bazaar. With 50 quid a week to get to work and back, eat, and go out, cash was tight - but I had to have it. In fact, everyone who was anyone had that gothic glossy shade on their nails. It was perfect for the times – glam, moody, serious. ‘A fabulous nail colour is like a piece of fine jewellery, and unlike makeup, you can glance down and admire it at any time. It’s an inexpensive ways to dress up,’ explains Essie Weingarten, founder of cult nail brand Essie.

Following Rouge Noir, Hard Candy cropped up on the scene. Remember them? The playful, power pastels with heart shaped rings around the bottle neck, and fun names to boot? Like all things in fashion, we’ve come full circle with vivid opaque pastels hot again for spring.

But, take a look at the autumn/winter shows and more adventurous nail designs were backstage gossip. We spotted nail guru Sophie Robson creating fierce, ‘yardy’ white nails at Henry Holland, whereas Sharmadean Reid from hip Dalston salon, Wah Nails, was working oval metallic tips at PPQ. ‘Square is so over,’ she assured us. That’s us told then.

I leave you with a glance at Chanel’s new spring nail collection, and a picture of me wearing Nouvelle Vague – which, as if by magic, matches my Monica Vinader ring (some things were meant to be).

Plus, if you’re a beauty geek like me, you might appreciate the arty pop-up press card that came with it (below).

One more thing. If you, like us, have been known to lose your cool upon sight of a gorgeous new nail colour, we suggest you hot foot it down to the Chanel counter on the 7th of May to nab a bottle before that one sells out too.  

- Annabel Jones, Beauty Director


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